Everyone feels like a new person, or at least wants to be when a new year comes around. And every year at the end, we look back and ponder if we have actually changed. Well, I have changed, as well as my life, and not just because I now write 2011 on my homework. I have officially changed my host family, my French life, and my life. Change is difficult, but change is…exciting!
It's not easy loosing family, but it's really not easy leaving the family that replaced your family. But that's exactly what I went through. Needless to say I became attatched to my first family. They are the ones that filled in the holes of homesickness, parentlessness, and overall nostalgia with care, time, knowledge, and true friendship for life. I felt like a five year old leaving an amusement park, "I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go!" But I knew that it is was important that I see several ways of living in France; it's a part of the experience.
|My last day with my first family|
I packed and prepared for learning that lesson, but not before doing one more thing with my host family. We spent the weekend before Christmas with the cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, the whole gang. We ate together at a resteraunt, all 25 of us, and returned to my host aunt's house for traditional French dancing. If you have ever seen a party in a movie about early Europe like Pride and Prejudice, you have seen the way I danced. The European, not at all homecoming, or even waltz stlye of dancing. Everyone said that I was spectacular and learned very quickly. Of course, I said it was my sense of rythm. 123, 123, 123 and... We danced and laughed, and fellowshiped the night away. It is my last true memory with my first host family, and one I will cherish.
The next day I finished packing and said my last goodbye, for a new experience was waiting for me, 25 minutes away...
|My new home!|
Just FOUR days before Christmas I arrived at the doorstep of my new family. I had no idea what to expect, to do, or even breathe. It wasn’t even five minutes when I said to myself…I am home! I was greeted by my new host parents and my host sister! Yes, I now have a 15 year old sister, and yes it is fun. I got my room all arranged and symmetrically coordinated. My room is not quite the same as my mini house with my first family, but it spacious, and I have traditional French shutters. As you can see my house is gorgeous, with stained glass windows, and the original woodwork. (I feel like a real estate agent, but it's the truth) There are three fireplaces and almost twenty doors. It wasn’t just the look of the house that made me comfortable. It was the warmth and welcome that I felt by my family. My host sister and I instantly clicked as we told each other how great it was going to be to sleep during vacation. And then we laughed as we explained we would wake up to a. eat or b. shop. We spent so much time together over break. I think we watched about ten movies, and went shopping just as often. By New Years we had our own inside jokes. She’s the sister that I never had.
If you know me, you know how I just love Christmas. The Rotary tells everyone that the most difficult time of the year is the holidays. That may be true, but I was eating too well to notice. We spent Christmas Eve at the parents’ of my host mother. My host grandparents are country renown hotel entrepreneurs. So we ate literally a five-star meal. I ate lobster for an appetizer on Christmas Eve, followed by soup, turkey, potatoes, the best salad I have ever eaten, green beans, homemade cheese, black walnut ice cream…sorry I was dreaming about the meal. After, we went to Christmas service in this incredibly ancient and small church. It was not my church that I know and love, but it was wonderful being able to celebrate the birth of Jesus in one of His oldest homes.
|Guess I was nice this year|
The next morning was Christmas. I was not very excited. When I woke up I asked myself: “How many presents could I possibly get, they barely know me?” When I entered the living room I asked myself: “How could they possibly give me this many presents, they barely know me?” I was showered with presents. I received clothes, books, journals, gift cards, chocolate, perfume, and so many other things. I was close to crying. I was so grateful for what my host family had done for me. Here I was, a stranger, a nice stranger, but one none the less, and receiving just as many presents as my host sister. 5000 miles away from my family and the Christmas spirit was just as strong. We enjoyed Christmas dinner made by my host father with his family. One of the cousins played the guitar and the entire family sang together around a large fireplace. It was truly a Kodak moment. Sure there was always apart of me that longed for my family on Christmas, but it wasn’t able to bring me to homesickness. In a way I was with my family, my French, no relation whatsoever, but still wonderful anyway, family.
On New Years Eve I couldn’t believe that 2010 was over. At the beginning on 2010 I had just found out that I was going to France. I was a sophomore just trying to make it through the school year. I was making plans for the summer, and then making plans for my trip. It was the first day of the year that I came to terms with everything I had been through that year. I then thought about what I want to do with not only my future, but in 2011, and in France. We all have different desires, dreams, and secrets. The only thing that everyone has in common is the tendency and desire to change for the better. So I marked January 1, 2011 the first day of the rest of my life. The first day that I make the most out of life.
I went back to school ready and excited. I returned with a new and fresh attitude. My first month back has been tiring, but so much more fun. I decided to just talk more, be funny and personable. I can now say that I have friends. Not just people I follow so that I am not alone, but people who ask where I am if I am not there, people who are always listening even when I start talking about Twilight, people that I can text, facebook, or call whenever I want, people who make me smile. I have already made my plans to visit my friends here in 2012 (I hope you are aware of this mom and dad) and they have made plans to visit me next year as well. I am more than just as American now, I am someone. It’s amazing how much that can mean.
|I already see a place for this in my living room|
I had parent teacher conferences in January, and my homeroom teacher told me that I work too much. I cannot believe that is possible, but if he says so. Therefore I have now taken on new activities in addition to my new attitude. I am a singer in the French jazz choir. I guide the group in our English piece “lil’ darling,” and I follow along with everyone else with the songs in French. In French there are no notes A.B.C.D.E.F.G. The notes for instruments and singing are Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ci, Do. So in the choir we sight read. While everyone else sees and sings the notes Re and Mi, I see D and E. So the choir is not as easy as it seems, but I enjoy it and that's the important thing. I also have piano. This is the piano that I practice on. (I want that for Christmas next year) I have had a couple of jam sessions. (Not bad ones for an American I might add) Aside from music I have joined a tech savvy sports center. The fitness center has all touch screen machines that are equipped with televisions playing my favorite American series in French. Then there is a little flash drive that connects to the machines for tracking your progress. It is pretty awesome I must say, but it doesn't have a song like the YMCA does. And then…(if I have not already joined enough) I am in a drama class run by my host parents. The Bottom Theater Company is a respected theater group owned by my host parents. They perform, direct, teach in schools, anything having to do with the theater. I was scared out of my mind to improvise and act in French. But as it turns out, I am not completely and totally terrible! I am working on a scene in Hamlet with another member of the group. My host parents have started me on a project. I am memorizing the scene in French and English. Yes, I speak in English, as Ophelia and Hamlet speaks in French. I am not sure how often a scene is performed in two languages, but I see a new direction for the theater.
2011is not just another year in life. I am only 16 now, but I came to the realization that in two years, I am no longer a child. (Not legally anyways) I encourage everyone to live everyday as if in a few months you will be somewhere else. I certainly do. I look all around me, at every street, every home, and every step that I take, because I don't want to miss even the little things while I am here. I am living my French life to the fullest, and want to live every other aspect of my life with the same intensity. I want to feel anew with each new day. So far, in 2011, in Tulle
, after five months, with five more to go...I do. France
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